While two years ago, CinemaCon was the announcement stage for James Cameron’s ambitious expansion of his Avatar universe, this year’s convention simply offered an update. Focusing on Avatar 2, the film’s producer Jon Landau commented on the 2020 movie at a panel regarding moviegoer expectations. What he said may not have given too much away, but he's certainly adjusted expectations and given us plenty to speculate about.
According to Deadline, Landau mentioned that James Cameron couldn’t be at the cinema industry convention in Las Vegas this week because the director was currently shooting a motion capture scene “in a huge water tank.” That’s because this sequel is taking place in an underwater environment that comprises much of Pandora’s geography. “We want to see that the world and characters deliver on what the promise of the first movie set up,” Landau said, before diving (get it?) into some of the aquatic details.
Like when star Kate Winslet came to the water tank scenes, she, according to Landau, “held her breath for more than three minutes — we trained our whole cast to do that.” That means the Oscar-winning actress can now almost hold her breath (along with eager fans) long enough for one of Cameron’s Avatar movies to actually come out. While Winslet earned further praise from Landau (“She made this look so easy, she nailed the Na’vi language”), women and diversity at large were the focus of much of the discussion.
Deadline reports that the remaining films in the Avatar franchise have both diverse clans of Na’vi, and diverse locations around Pandora for them to inhabit. That could mean, speculatively speaking, that on the planet populated by mechanically-aided humans attempting to rid the Na’vi of their precious resources, there are elementally-flavored groups of the natives that reflect their environment (like Fire Nation, Water Nation, etc, if you’ll let speculation dip that closely to the OTHER Avatar series) and allow a semblance of racial diversity in the sci-fi film.
“When we’re casting the Na’vis, we can truly be colorblind whether it’s with a Zoe Saldana or a CCH Pounder and provide opportunities,” Landau explained. “We’re making movies for the world. Jim’s characters are strong female protagonists who can become inspirational to people.”
What that means for the future of the films is still intangible, but with the focus of the sequels showing as much of Pandora and its inhabitants as possible, it seems we'll get a chance to see its many shapes, colors, and environments soon. Well, soonish, as Avatar 2 isn't slated to drop until Dec. 18, 2020